What’s In Your ToolBox? Preparing for Traffic Signal Knockdowns

John ThomasSignal Knockdowns, Temporary Signals, Traffic Signals

What’s In Your ToolBox? Preparing for Traffic Signal Knockdowns

Traffic signal knockdowns are unpredictable and can quickly wreak havoc, resulting in dangerous traffic conditions. Knockdowns can be caused from a sudden strong storm with high winds, a natural disaster or an errant motorist impacting a signal pole. In an instant, traffic at a busy intersection can be turned to chaos, requiring immediate action to restore traffic control. Adding portable knockdown signal trailers to your toolbox can help you be ready when knockdowns occur.

Traffic signal knockdowns require 24/7 emergency response that can be disruptive. Common solutions for knockdowns include emergency personnel directing traffic, temporary signs, and temporary span wire lights. When emergency personnel are used to direct traffic, they are exposed to danger and these critical resources are not available elsewhere. Temporary stop signs are not always clearly visible for motorists and can result in driver confusion. Span wire lights are labor-intensive and have a long installation time.

The challenge during knockdowns is to find a way to restore traffic control quickly to give crews the time they need to repair the permanent signal. Portable knockdown signal trailers like JTI’s PortaPole provide a solution that enables signal contractors and city public works departments to restore traffic control in minutes. Safety is improved because motorists see a traffic signal that they recognize and understand, helping traffic to flow safely through the intersection.

What Are Portable Knockdown Signal Trailers?

Portable knockdown signal trailers are designed to be quickly deployed when a traffic signal is knocked down or out of service. The trailers consist of several components. For example, the PortaPole portable knockdown signal trailer consists of a towable trailer with a signal mast and arm that can be raised with the flip of a switch in the control cabinet. Standard trailers include two three-section signal light heads but can also be configured with 5-section light heads with turn arrows. Extendable arm options are also available for wider multi-lane intersections. The trailer has a self-contained battery power supply with optional solar recharging for long run times in the field.

These portable signals connect wirelessly to the permanent signal’s intersection controller and take over the downed signal’s functions. The wireless interface includes a cabinet module, a trailer module and antennas that can be installed in minutes to connect the signal trailer to the intersection controller. A wired connection option is also available using the permanent signal’s existing cables at the site.

How Can You Prepare for Signal Knockdowns and More?

Adding portable knockdown signal trailers to your toolbox can help you be prepared when signal knockdowns occur. Since knockdowns are unpredictable and happen in an instant, planning ahead and having these trailers in your fleet can dramatically accelerate response times. You can also reduce after-hours repair demands and overtime for crews to reduce labor costs.

Portable knockdown signal trailers can be towed to the intersection and quickly set up to restore traffic control. They can be used to replace a downed signal or multiple trailers can be used for full intersection control if necessary. Once towed to the intersection, the automatic signal mast and arm can be deployed in minutes from the roadside to keep crews safe during deployment.

After the wireless interface system is installed, the portable knockdown signal trailer is controlled by the intersection controller and assumes the normal phasing and function of the intersection, including providing for existing vehicle actuation.

Important Benefits of Portable Knockdown Signal Trailers

Deploying portable knockdown signal trailers during knockdowns delivers many benefits. It increases safety for motorists, pedestrians and emergency personnel by providing highly visible and familiar traffic control. It reduces disruption by restoring traffic control quickly during knockdowns – usually in less than one hour. And finally, it saves time and reduces costs by requiring less labor, overtime and material costs.

Portable knockdown signal trailers can be used for knockdowns, signal replacement projects, intersection upgrades and other applications where temporary traffic control is required to keep traffic moving safely.  Even at intersections where a permanent controller cabinet is not present, or the controller cabinet is damaged, portable traffic signals like JTI’s ADDCO PTS-2000 can be used to control traffic using its self-contained Galaxy® Controller. Planning ahead and having these tools in your toolbox is a great way to be ready for whatever happens on your roadways at a moment’s notice.

Written by: Charlie Percival, Director of Research and Development at John Thomas Inc.